Finding a cure for cancer: open data, open collaboration and open minds

“Let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

It was this statement from former President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address that prompted the creation of a national initiative to fight cancer – the Cancer Moonshot bill.

By signing the 21st Century Cures Act (known as the Moonshot bill), Obama ensured $1.8 billion would be allocated to cancer research funding. Covering other areas of healthcare, the bill also supports brain research, precision medicine, and substance abuse treatment. It will “literally save lives,” in the words of former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

Speaking at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, Biden also made clear: “No single oncologist or cancer researcher can find the answers on his or her own. It requires a lot more openness: open data, open collaboration, and above all, open minds.”

From a research perspective, this emphasis on open data highlights some of the daily frustrations associated with drug development. In line with this, medical publisher Elsevier launched its own initiative at the end of 2016. The online Cancer Moonshot Resource Center provides researchers and other interested parties free access to data, metrics, video interviews and other resources to support the fight against cancer.

IBM Watson Health is also heavily involved. The organization is currently working with more than 20 leading cancer institutes to make genetic data more accessible to those who can make a difference to people’s lives. For research teams, whose key to success depends on staying up to date with the latest scientific developments, this open repository of information accelerates and simplifies research.

As anyone working in the oncology therapeutic space knows, every step towards creating a medical environment with unrestricted access to anonymized data is a step in the right direction. The more data available to those who know what to do with it, the more innovation and advancements.

We understand that data is just one part in the fight against cancer, but the ability to use that data throughout the drug development process is critical. Ensuring early phase researchers are getting the information they need is the first step in the path of research, a path that leads to one end – a cure for cancer.

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Author: Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark is a strategic client director working on partnerships between CCC and commercial clients. Ryan has been with CCC over five years and has worked in rightsholder relations and business development prior to joining the strategic client group. Ryan enjoys spending time with his family, and following Bruins hockey and Ireland rugby in his time away from work. 
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